If you are a parent and facing a marital dissolution, the well-being of your children is likely to be your most critical concern. When parents are able to work together in a constructive fashion to reach an amicable agreement about child custody and parenting time, the result is usually less stress and anxiety for both the parents and their minor children, as well as more stable parenting time arrangements. Kansas family law judges understand that the more positive parents are toward the relationship between their children and the other parent the lower the risk of adverse impact to children from divorce process. This principle is so deeply rooted in child custody and parenting time determinations that it is one of the official factors in the best interest of the child standard under Kansas law.
When a parents approach a child custody and parent timesharing dispute in the context of a divorce or paternity action from the perspective of placing their children’s needs and well-being above their own, significant benefits result both for the parent and the minor children. While many timesharing arrangements still involve a primary residential parent, Kansas courts like those in other states are increasingly favoring arrangements where both parents are involved in the child close to an equal amount of time. This trend is based on the notion that it is in the best interest of minor children to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents assuming there is an absence of evidence regarding the fitness of either parent.
Given this bias toward extensive contact and interaction with both parents, a family law judge tends to view a parent more favorably that seems inclined to encourage the child to spend time with the other parent. Conversely, evidence of either parent engaging in alienation of the child in the form of derogatory comments, non-cooperation during parenting time exchanges and similar acts may play a critical role in a family law judge’s parenting time determination. One of the best interest of the child factors that a judge is directed to consider is as follows: “[T]he willingness and ability of each parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the other parent and to allow for a continuing relationship between the child and other parent.” K.S.A. 60—1610(a)(3)(B)(vi).
While there are certainly behaviors and issues involving the other parent that may make amicable negotiation of parenting time and child custody arrangements complicated, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, past neglect or abuse and similar parental fitness issues, a cooperative approach increases the chance that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached. In situations where the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the judge will closely scrutinize the degree to which each parent has encouraged a positive relationship between the children and the other parent.
This type of approach in divorce and paternity actions provides the dual benefit of reducing the stress and anxiety of parents and children while also mitigating the litigation costs associated with child custody and parenting time disputes. Amicably negotiated resolutions will also increase the stability of existing orders so that there is less chance that parents will continually need to return to court for modification or enforcement proceedings once a judgment has been reached.
Wichita, KS family law attorney Thomas C. McDowell is committed to being part of the solution and not part of the problem when families seek to resolve complex divorce or paternity issues related to their children. Mr. McDowell has been practicing law for over two decades and uses this experience to guide his clients past the difficult emotions that can derail constructive negotiations on child custody, parenting time and visitation issues. When a negotiated solution is not realistic, Mr. McDowell is prepared to zealously pursue the best resolution for his clients and their children. So please call us today at 316-633-4322 or submit an online case evaluation form.